Passing Through the Salar de Uyuni
There are few places in this world that completely blow your mind. Places where you question whether or not you are still on Earth. Places where reality seems impossible. The Salar de Uyuni in Bolivia is one of them.
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At around 4,100 square miles, the Salar de Uyuni is the world’s largest salt flat. It was formed by prehistoric lakes, sits at an altitude of 12,000ft and is incredibly, incredibly flat: so flat that the average altitude variation is 1 meter over the entire area of the Salar.
The sight of it is surreal.
Imagine driving through a landscape where all you see is the white of the ground and the blue of the sky. Nothing visible for miles, nothing growing, nothing alive. No distinguishing patterns, no hills, no valleys, all perfectly flat, nothing but identical looking salt stretching in every single direction. You might as well be on a different planet as the only signs of civilization are the tracks made by Toyota Landcruisers and other SUVs crossing through the desolation.
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But we found out that the Salar does have a few surprises. Our guide drove us to an “island” in the middle of the Salar where rock and gravel had pushed their way through the crust to form a sanctuary of sorts. This rugged and craggy outcrop was where cactus and other flora flourished, protected from the harsh, life-sucking salt. Climbing to the highest vista on this island gave you a panoramic view of the area. But there wasn’t much to see: the exact same view from down below, except you could see quite a bit further.
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One very cool thing about the flats was that because there were no identifying landmarks or other features to tell how far away something was, you could set up some very interesting photos:
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The Salar is one of those places that I’ll never forget. Every time I look at these photos, I can’t help but think of how far away and how different of a world I was in. The sights,the sounds, the memories of good times and great people all come flooding back. And you know what? That’s the beautiful thing about traveling.